Vegan takoyaki recipe: what to use instead of octopus

by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  November 4, 2020

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Takoyaki: But Make it Vegan

But how do you do that?

An octopus stuffed, egg dumpling, and popular Japanese street food, to put it simply. that’s takoyaki.

vegan takoyaki

These delectable, and fluffy round dumplings were invented and popularized by a street vendor in 1935 in Osaka, by the name Tomekichi Endo.

Usually flavored with onion and ginger, these fluffy octopus filled dumplings were inspired by a traditional beef dumpling of Akashi.

What can you use to make takoyaki vegan?

With a dumpling whose main source of substance is octopus, many non-meat eaters might be deterred without seeking an alternative. Luckily for vegan and vegetarians alike, there are multiple substitutions to make this traditional Japanese dish meat-free.

Why is traditional takoyaki not vegan?

Things to look out for when making takoyaki and wanting to make it completely vegan are:

  1. normal dashi has katsuobushi in it so you’ll need a vegan dashi option like one of these we wrote about here
  2. using the easy and ready-made takoyaki batter or takoyaki flour has dashi already in it so you should avoid using those
  3. the batter has egg in it so you should avoid it or replace it (we’ve added a little bit of apple cider vinegar but you can also add some oil if the batter keeps sticking to your pan)
  4. traditionally there’s octopus in it but that’s easy to substitute
  5. the toppings are sauce most often with honey and katsuobushi in it, there are usually katusobushi flakes on it which are fish shavings, and often the furikake seaweed flakes you add also have some fish in it like salmon (but there are a lot of vegan options)

How do you make vegan Takoyaki?

To make Takoyaki, getting that distinguishable round shape is considered necessary, but for this dish, the flavor isn’t sacrificed because the shape isn’t just right.

You can use a Japanese Takoyaki pan or use a Dutch pancake pan as a great alternative. Once you have the proper equipment, it’s as easy as following this recipe:

Vegan takoyaki with shiitake mushrooms

With shiitake instead of octopus, this takoyaki recipe is still delicious while being vegan.
Course Snack
Cuisine Japanese
Keyword shiitake, Takoyaki, Vegan, Vegetarian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Joost Nusselder
Cost $4

Ingredients

  • cup vegan dashi stock
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup shiitake mushrooms fresh
  • 1 green onion
  • pickled ginger
  • vegan sauces read more below
  • nori seaweed or vegan furikake

Instructions

  • Combine 1 1/4 cup of dashi stock and the apple cider vinegar with 1 cup of flour and mix until frothy.
  • After whisking until thoroughly combined, heat your pan and oil each hole.
  • Fill each hole until about 80% full, and top with cubed shiitake mushrooms, onion, and pickled ginger. Cover with remaining batter.
  • Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, trimming off excess batter and flipping them with a 90-degree flick of the wrist.
  • Continue to flip until golden brown, remove from heat, and serve coated with your favorite vegan sauce and/ or seaweeds.

Helpful Hacks and Tips

Pro-Tip: when using shiitake mushrooms chop small and season or use dehydrated bits. Boil and soak dehydrated mushrooms in your dashi stock for thirty minutes to let them absorb the desired flavor and create a similar chewy texture to the original octopus’ variation.

Vegan takoyaki with shiitake

Meat-Free Meat Seasoning

Season your shiitakes, tofu, or veggie filling with a variety of spices to add depth and more flavor to your Japanese dumplings. Typically made with seafood, a hint of lemon and old bay are popular choices to flavoring the stuffed center.

Sauce up Your Vegan Takoyaki

Condiments and oriental sauces are a huge part of the deliciousness of Asian-style food. Even if you’re enjoying a meat-free or entirely vegan diet, you can still enjoy Takoyaki and make it extra legendary with a delectable dipping sauce. Here are a few great options to try:

Vegan Takoyaki People will Tak-o-bout

Get creative with your oil, sauce and toppings to really make your version legendary.

Canola, vegetable, sesame, and coconut oil are popular choices, and toppings are infinite!

Green scallions, pickled ginger, and tempura are the typical standard, but make them different each time with different toppings sprinkled on top.

Conclusion

With so much potential and one distinguishing feature, Takoyaki can be modified again and again so the round fluffy dumplings can be enjoyed appeasing any diet, even vegan.

With substitutions like tofu and shiitake mushrooms, their flavors can be manipulated to be exactly what the chef is aiming for: octopus.

A huge misconception about vegan diets is that they often lack flavor and depth. Vegan substitutes can be just as tasty and offer greater opportunity for creativity in the kitchen.

Even if you enjoy meat, try making this meat-free Takoyaki and your tastebuds might just take you to the streets of Osaka.

No sacrificing of flavor is required, as you can stuff it how you like, and cover and dip it just the same, all meat and animal byproduct free.

Also read: this is how you make a vegan miso soup to go as a side

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.